Facebook CEO Zuckerberg vows to tighten control over political ad placement and curb hate speech
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who on Tuesday answered tough questions from members of two Senate committees, will return to Congress on Wednesday to attend a House committee hearing on the transparency of his social network and protecting the privacy of its users..
Legislators demand stronger protections following data breach affecting tens of millions of users.
«Clearly, there has been an erosion of consumer confidence and – apparently – invalid data transfer», – noted the head of the legal committee Chuck Grassley.
«It was my mistake and I apologize», – said Zuckerberg.
Senators demand from the head of Facebook to take action.
«If you and other social networks don’t put things in order, none of us will have the right to privacy., – said Senior Democrat on the Commerce Committee Bill Nelson. – If Facebook and other internet companies don’t stop, or cannot stop, privacy infringements, then we, Congress will have to.».
Zuckerberg was summoned to the hearing following reports that the personal data of millions of Facebook users had been collected, without their knowledge, by Cambridge Analytica, a UK voter profiling company. The company’s services were used by the campaign headquarters of US President Donald Trump to work with likely supporters in the 2016 elections.
Zuckerberg promised to strengthen the protection of Facebook users. The social media executive proudly talked about how Facebook connects people for the greater good, but at the same time admitted that the company has not been proactive enough to protect its users from misuse of data about them, as well as from the disseminators of malicious messages..
«I founded Facebook and I run it. And I am responsible for everything that happens there», – said Zuckerberg.
Earlier this week, Facebook began notifying 87 million users whose personal data may have leaked to Cambridge Analytica..
Zuckerberg has promised that Facebook will identify and, if necessary, deprive other firms of access to its platform, as well as give 2.2 billion users the ability to block third-party access to their applications..
Senators also wanted reassurances that Facebook and other social networks would block fake accounts of Russian origin that spread divisive messages during and after the 2016 US elections..
«We will verify the identity of each political advertiser, – stated Zuckerberg. – We will do this for [large] [Facebook users] pages, which will significantly complicate attempts by Russian interference or other dubious efforts to spread disinformation online.». (My insert, based on the transcript of the hearing. In the original, he said: we’re going to do the same verification of the identity and location of admins who are running large pages. – AA)
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy noted that the abuse of social networking opportunities is not limited to the United States. Facebook was used to spread hate speech against the Rohingya minority in Burma, he said..
«Recently, UN investigators accused Facebook of some involvement in inciting possible genocide in Myanmar, and genocide did occur there.», – said Leahy.
«We are working on it, – answered Zuckerberg. – We are hiring dozens of additional content analysts with knowledge of the Burmese language. Since hate speech is very language-specific, it is difficult to detect without having people who speak that language, and we need to significantly step up our efforts in this regard.».
Until now, social networks have largely regulated themselves. Several Senators said Congress should consider measures to protect users of these platforms.
«What are we going to say to our voters given what is happening? Why should we let you self-regulate?» – asked Republican Senator Lindsay Graham.
Facebook Data Breach Affects 50 Million: What You Need To Know | TODAY
«I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any regulation, – said Zuckerberg. – I think the main question, given the growing importance of the Internet in people’s lives, is: what is the right regulation??»
Facebook CEO pledged to submit proposals to regulate social media and work with Congress to draft a bill.
The social network has faced backlash from some consumer advocacy groups. Members of the #DeleteFacebook movement («Remove Facebook») on Tuesday gathered outside the courtroom where the hearing was held.
«We knew they had your data, but I’m worried about the extent of the leak. What do they know about my children and grandchildren?» – wondered a woman named Alison.
Legislators have pledged to hold separate hearings in the near future on the activities of Cambridge Analytica.